One by one, the NHL's talent is heading overseas, which could be an indication that they've given up some—if not all—hope that the 2012-2013 season is a possibility.
Over the summer, I spoke with Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere about the CBA and looming lockout. He said he suspected there would, in fact, be a lockout but that most players, including himself, would wait it out in North America as long as they could. It wouldn't be until it was clear there wasn't going to be a season that we'd see a mass exodus of players.
Well, the mass exodus is starting. Certainly the fact that Gary Bettman just suggested to NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr that the two sides take a two-week break in negotiations has something to do with that. This week alone we have seen not just Paul Stastny sign abroad (EHC Red Bull Munchen in Munich, Germany), but we've also lost Philadelphia Flyers Max Talbot (SM-Liiga, Finland), Nicklas Grossmann (Heilbronner Falken, Germany), and Bruno Gervais (SSK Sodertalje, Sweden). Cam Fowler is now Gervais's teammate, and Jason Chimera of the Washington Capitals came to terms with HC Chomutov.
Read any interview with these guys and you'll hear some version of the same thing: I waited as long as I could, the talks are going nowhere, and I just want to play.
All in all, over 200 NHL regulars are now skating on European ice. On top of that, you have guys like Kyle Quincey and Scott Gomez who signed with minor league teams. If Fehr agrees to this moratorium Bettman has suggested, don't be surprised to see a whole lot more players signing somewhere—anywhere—in order to play.